Setup - no muss, no fuss
The main thing that some won't like is that the power cable is not removable (Correction: The cable is technically removable.). I believe they may have gone this route to avoid a big ugly power brick since a lot of people will be putting one of them in their kitchen. The cable itself looks great and is pretty long. Below is a picture of the fabric covered cable:
Siri for Music
Siri still needs commands spoken in a certain way, so if you want a movie soundtrack, it makes sense to tell her you want to hear "the album Pretty in Pink Movie Soundtrack". Some of this is because there are 40 million songs to choose from, so the more specific the better.
I also tested playing the music loud and then saying "Hey, Siri". It does a fantastic job of hearing your voice over loud music. I can't say the same about the Echo Dot. I have had to get close to it and scream in similar situations.
I have had it in a small room and in a spot that splits two large rooms. It fills up a small room better, but no matter where you put it, it sounds great for its size. The volume won't blow out your eardrums, but there is no distortion at 100 percent, so you are always getting great sound.
The AirPlay 2 features that bring AirPlay into this century are just around the corner and I expect will have more people buying HomePods. I have tested AirPlay 2 with my AppleTVs and being able to use multiroom audio directly from iOS takes things to a new level.
I did have some issues asking for some shows. For example, it has no idea what "iMore Show" is. It worked fine for Vector with Rene Ritchie, Accidental Tech Podcast, etc. It is supposed to be ableto pick up where you left off, but I am still trying to figure that one out.
General Siri Commands
While it won't rival its competitors in this arena. The point of this device is great sound quality in a small package, not to play trivial pursuit. If you have no concerns about privacy (see my post about privacy here), get Google Home Mini or Echo Dot to answer your random questions or just get out your iPhone and launch Google Assistant. I have Echos all over the house and I just haven't had much need to ask it a bunch of random questions.
Combining with Echo Dot
I have also tested the Plex app skill with my AppleTV and I was able to send the AirPlay stream to the HomePod. It is an easy backdoor to playing my lossless files on the HomePod using theEcho Dot. That being said, the AppleTV has to be manually adjusted to the HomePod airplay speaker every time you use it, so the J River Media solution on my computer has been a better option. Though, honestly, I won't use this feature very often at all.
Third Party Apps
I have seen review after review complaining about the lack of third party audio streaming. Guess what, it isn't that unusual. Sure, they are one of the few devices without Spotify, but the Amazon Echo doesn't support Google Play Music, Apple Music, Tidal, etc.
As far as third party skills, get anEcho Dot for ~ $39 (though it is often sale) if you need things like Plex, J River, Harmony Remote, support. Get the HomePod for the Apple ecosystem. Just be aware of what it is for before you decide.
Who is it for?
I will try to post an unboxing video and some of my impressions when I get a chance. However, I want to run down a list of what you can expect from the HomePod to make it easier to decide if the product is for you or not:
Who is it for?
1. Apple Music Subscribers that want voice control of music from a speaker
2. People in iOS that use Airplay.
3. People that want great sound from a small speaker
4. People that listen to Apple Podcasts
5. People that use HomeKit devices
6. People that prefer Apple's approach to privacy
Who is it not for?
1. People that don't use Apple Music that want voice control of music from a speaker
2. People that want it for random trivia or third party skills
3. People that do not own an iPad or iPhone
Does it work for my purposes?
As for Siri. she works great with Apple Music. I use it that way daily, so I know how to talk to the assistant to get it to play music I want to hear. I will still keep my cheap Echos around, so I have all of the other assistant features nearby, anyway. I just see them as very different devices, like a truck vs a sports car.
What would I change?
Down the road, I would love to see an Apple version of the Echo Dot that I can put anywhere and cost a fraction of the HomePod. I have my doubts that Apple wants that market, though.